Just like all the other reviews you've read about this book, I'm going to start off by saying the beginning of this is definitely an intergalactic version of Titanic. BUT IT IS SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT!
The story alternates perspectives of Lilac LaRoux who is the richest girl in the universe and the daughter of a mega power business man who has his business in (space) ship building and planet ecosystem building (and much, much more I assume, but we only get a small glimpse) and Tarver Merendsen who is a young war hero that came from humble beginnings and has been jetted up into the life of a socialite because of her military decorations.
They meet at a party when Tarver sees her across the room. A beautiful (but not fake beautiful like the other girls in the room) redhead sitting alone at a table. The gets approached by a commoner who obviously doesn't belong here in first class and her guards man handle him into submission. Lilac demands they stop, and Tarver realizes that she isn't like the rest. They chat until her friends arrive where he is quickly dismissed. How could he not know who she is? How dare he approach her and flirt with her? Well, he had no idea who she was until he approaches her again the next day while she is walking with her cousin on an observation deck. He asks for her to join him that night to view the observation deck together. Knowing what she has to do, she dismisses him and insults him while telling him who she is. He is utterly humiliated and she secretly feels awful for doing what she did. Their paths don't cross again until their ship, Icarus, begins to fail and break.
As fate would have it, he ends up rescuing her and they end up getting away and crash landing on an unknown planet. They watch as the mighty Icarus falls from the sky in pieces, leaving little hope that there are any other survivors but them. The story continues as they try to find a way off the planet. Let's just say there is a lot of walking in this book. Walking through the jungle, walking through the plains, walking in the rain, walking in the snow, etc. It dragged along for a good part of the midsection. You have no idea where the book will go because in between each chapter are dialogue entries from an interrogation Tarver is receiving upon being rescued from the planet. You have no idea if Lilac made it to the end or WTF happened as it just added to the ever growing mystery. The ending of this book is really what took it from four stars to five for me. I was feeling so many feels and was so invested in the characters that I was a mess during the last few chapters.
I will also say that for about 50% of this book I HATED Lilac. She constantly puts Tarver down despite him rescuing her on several occasions. She refuses to show weakness because she is "a LaRoux" and even insists on traipsing about the jungle in a ball gown in high heels. She lets her crazy show a bit for a while and I really thought she was a done deal as far as her mental health goes. It isn't until Tarver gets injured that she is forced to step up her game and put her bratty socialite upbringing behind her. She really steps up and shows Tarver that the love feel feels for him isn't because he is her only option, but because he is such an amazing person. I was most impressed with her at the very end when she basically tells her dad to SUCK IT. hearts hearts hearts. I really didn't know if I would get a happy ending with this.
Tarver... Oh, Tarver. Despite everything he is a perfect gentleman even when most would have left Lilac to fend for herself after her constant insults. He grows so much as a character and lets us see all of the emotion he has been holding on to for years. All of the pain from losing his brother, his duty as a soldier and to his family.. He is so much more than a soldier. And the love that he develops for Lilac is so beautiful. There are scenes towards the end that had me in tears. Oh my gosh, I haven't felt pain like that for a character since Allegiant by V. Roth. I felt his happiness and his pain. His anger and his sadness. Oh, man. The feels.
This story is so unique from others that I have read. Unlike most YA books these days, there is no insta love. Their love story builds and builds and you really don't know if it will ever happen but right when you think it is a lost cause, all of the emotions come crashing down. Also, the story is unique in that there aren't really any other characters other than Lilac and Tarver except for the first few and very last few chapters. It really is an entire book about them. Lastly, this sci-fi element is super unique. Yes, there are aliens but these aren't little green men. These aliens will have you freaking out and crying by the end. You will have no idea WTF is going on for the better part of the book, but it all comes together, I promise.
What a kick ass book. I'm really excited for the rest of the series even though it will be hard to follow up this one.